HIV Risks: Old and New Data on Risk Elimination

HIV Risks: Old and New Data on Risk Elimination

Thursday, November 16, 2017

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Sometimes, or often, old news bears repeating. A recent blog summarizes findings from an extensive CDC literature review and data analysis that ranks the risk of "per-act risk of HIV acquisition from different types of exposure to the virus." That study came out in 2014 in the peer-reviewed AIDS journal (Estimating Per-Act HIV Transmission Risk: A Systematic Review) and subsequently received widespread viewing and recognition, according to's Recognizing Researchers: CDC Team Acknowledged for Influential Publication on Estimating Per-Act HIV Transmission Risk (November 14, 2017).

Unsurprisingly, a blood transfusion was the greatest risk by far, while other risks are considerably lower, vary widely and some are negligible. The webpage and chart below, cited in the blog, are worth a review as a quick summary of per-act HIV risks.

Risks and U=U

Per-act risks are one thing. Risk reduction is of course the goal, to the point of risk elimination it seems. Federal agencies are working together to develop messaging on viral suppression and elimination of transmission risk. Language is evolving on what some call U=U, Undetectable = Untransmittable. CDC issued a notice several months ago on September 7, 2017, Updating HIV Treatment and Viral Suppression Messages, but that language has since been updated on their webpage, HIV Treatment as Prevention, that reads in part under Sexual Transmission:

"People living with HIV who take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative sexual partners." CDC webpage: HIV Treatment as Prevention

Chart on Per Act HIV Risks